Welcome to Monday’s podcast.
My name is Tom Finnemore and I’m part of the team here at STC. I will be taking us through this week’s podcasts. If you’re joining us as part of the STC Lent Project and this is your first time then special hello and welcome! And if you enjoy them then please do pass onto a friend. There’s a prize for the person who shares the most podcasts! More about that later in the week.
Our reading today is Colossians 4:10-18 and I will focus on verse 12:
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
A thought for the day:
We are now coming to the very end of St Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. These are his final words, and his greetings.
On Friday my colleague Liam spoke about prayer from Colossians 4:2 – today I want to continue thinking about prayer – I want to think about verse 12 and what it means to ‘wrestle in prayer.’
I recently read a story about prayer that stirred me deeply. Let me offer a condensed version of that story:-
In November 1949 two elderly sisters (one of them blind) aged 84 and 82 both shared a deep concern. Not a single young person attended their local church. They felt so stirred, so moved that they began to pray. These weren’t just arrow prayers – this was the kind of wrestling prayer St Paul is talking about in verse 12. Their prayer meetings began at 10pm and finished at 3 or 4am. Both sisters on their knees calling out to God.
During one of the prayer meetings one of the sisters had a vision – it was the local church packed full of young people and a person she didn’t recognise in the pulpit. They shared this with the local minister and he and all his elders began to pray too. This lasted for about 6 weeks.
This happened on a small the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and this outpouring of God’s power is known as the Hebridean Revival.
6 weeks after one of the sisters had a vision of strange man standing in a pulpit, Duncan Campbell, a well known Scottish Minister, visited the island. He was tired having just got off the boat – He never made it his accommodation that night; instead he was taken to the local church where he preached a very short simple message. God did the rest. The church was packed with 300 people. Some kneeling, singing and turned their lives to Jesus. As he walked outside the church a further 600 people were worshipping and kneeling in the churchyard.
Campbell said it was like nothing he’d seen before. It was a powerful move of God. When people credited him for ‘bringing the revival’ he would challenge them. He said it started when two elderly sisters decided to do something. They chose to pray – they chose to wrestle with God in prayer.
I love that story. It inspires and challenges in equal measure.
What would it look like for a move of God like that in Sheffield? It’s happened before. What would it look like for the pubs to empty and people to flock to churches? At all times of the night…
What about our universities?
What I love about the story of the Hebridean reivival was it two elderly ladies who said ‘enough is enough’. And began to pray!
When we look at the world what stirs us?
Is it human trafficking? Is it mental health? Is it teenagers? Is it university students? Is it the loneliness epidemic among the elderly? Is it family breakdown?
What is it?
We’re told in Paul’s closing remarks that Epaphras is ‘always wrestling in prayer for you…’
He’s adopting a Jewish style of prayer – it’s where we get our understanding on ‘intercession’ from – to petition God in prayer: He’s most probably standing – looking to heaven speaking out, calling out to His heavenly father to intervene. He’s the founding pastor of the Colossian Church. His heart must be broken to know that that they are being pulled all over the place by dodgy teaching – robbing them of the freedom the gospel brings.
What challenges me personally is that there are often things I see that I just accept as part of the world around us… a declining church?
I’ve challenged myself writing this podcast – because I know there are things I need to be wrestling with the Lord with and I’m not always.
So, why not with me – take time – “Lord what do you want me to pray about?” Start wrestling… “Lord I want to see heavenly change in this situation. Wake me up Lord. Stir me to pray…!”
This week, let’s commit to praying to situations that only God can intervene in. Let’s see what he teaches us and what he does!
Lord, we know you call us to pray. It’s the greatest gift. Teach us to pray today – to bring that which is on our hearts before you in prayer – that today we will see breakthroughs.
READING: COLOSSIANS 4: 10-18
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.